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Please welcome first-time contributor John E. Panic, a man who was born in Houston, Texas, in 1954. John experienced his first psychotic episode on his last day of elementary school. He went undiagnosed until 1973 when recreational drug use as a sophomore in college caused a mental breakdown. His first diagnosis was from a hallucinatory drug flashback. He was misdiagnosed as having hypoglycemia the same year. John had a variety of other diagnoses over the years, but finally received an accurate diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type, in the late 1990’s. He was then classified as disabled in 1998. John, and his ex-wife, currently live with John’s 87-year-old parents and help care for them.
About this photo: “This image has multiple meanings for me. One thing that sets me apart from people who only have bipolar disorder is what I call a shattered self. This shattering of the self is independent of my moods. My thoughts, emotions, feelings, sensations seem to be disconnected or unrelated. I am overwhelmed by incoming sensory experience. I have to retreat into a dark space, close my eyes, use ear plugs to cut down the noise. Then I experience something like a panic attack and sleep paralysis. Manic and depressive psychoses cause a different kind of self fragmentation. In manic psychosis, a powerful energy fills me and my thoughts move so quickly I can’t understand a single word I think. Euphoria turns to a frightening hilarity or uncontrollable irritability and eventually ends up in terror and horror. During depressive psychosis it is a struggle to think, talk, act, or move and I feel down, guilty, ashamed, hopeless, and worthless. The compactor is the disorder and the overflowing trash represents the shattered/fragmented self.”
Find more from John on Flickr